Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Want to Be a JET Magazine Beauty of the Week?

JET Magazine is one of the most well known and well read publications targeted towards the African-American community. One of the magazine’s most popular features—if not “the” most popular—is the “Beauty of the Week.” The opportunity to be published and have millions of readers looking at your photo can be quite an accomplishment and is great exposure. If this is something you want to give a shot, keep reading.

Here is the submission information, which has been taken right from JET Magazine’s website so it’s all you’ll need to know in order to have your shot at becoming Beauty of the Week (BOTW):

Submit two current photographs of yourself, preferably in a two-piece bathing suit, taken against a plain background with few distractions. Please make sure all photos indicate the name and address on the back.

Forward to the attention of:
JET Beauty of the Week
820 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60605

In order to be considered you must be at least 18 years of age. Acceptance of the photographs submitted is based on the decision of the Editorial Review Board. You will be contacted, by mail, as to the board's decision. JET reserves the right to retain all photographs. Thanks for your interest and good luck.

In the past, JET Magazine mainly accepted photo submissions for BOTW from professional photographers that test shoot with models they felt had potential. Now the rules have changed, allowing for non-models and models to send in their photos. They don’t ask for professional pictures but if you want to make sure your image catches their eye, it doesn’t hurt to arrange a test shoot with a professional photographer in your area. Be sure he/she has experience shooting swimwear.

JET Magazine is published weekly, so there are plenty of chances to be chosen. However, now that virtually anyone can submit pictures for BOTW, the magazine is undoubtedly bombarded with more mail than before (snail mail only, no email submissions so far). This often slows down the selection process so expect to wait for a few months. If you make the cut, you’ll be notified and will receive payment, a letter of congratulations, and a free copy of the issue with your photo in it (this is what I received when I was a BOTW back in 2004. At that time I was paid $100. This may or may not have changed since then so make note of that).

Although it isn’t explicitly stated, BOTW candidates are almost always African-American or mixed with African-American. There are so many BOTW, since the publication is a weekly one, so I am not sure if there has ever been a non African-American BOTW…I believe there have been girls of Hispanic origin. Asian…I’m not sure but African-American and Asian mixes have definitely been chosen. Another cool thing about this opportunity is that you do not even need to be a model to submit. Many of the women that make it are not working models, so if you’re photogenic and proud of your body, give it a try!

My JET "Beauty of the Week" Experience

Because Modeling 101 – “A Model’s Diary” didn’t exist back in 2004, I wasn’t able to blog about my experience shooting and being chosen as JET Magazine’s “Beauty of the Week” so I figured, why not reminisce about that experience here?

I actually got into the JET gig while doing an unrelated project. I had just taken on a TV hosting project that was going to take me down to Los Angeles, where I was scheduled to co-host a pilot episode of a new show that was hoping to be picked up by a station. The person in charge of the project was a part-time photographer who had a lot of great connections within the industry. One of those connections happened to be photographer LaMonte McLemore, a widely acclaimed photographer who has shot for Playboy, Ebony, Jet, People, and Harper's Bazaar, among others. The plan was to kill two birds with one stone by combining the red carpet hosting event with a test shoot for JET Magazine. Three other models were along for the road trip and the plan was to head for Las Vegas first to test shoot with LaMonte McLemore for JET and then go to Los Angeles for the hosting gig at the BET Awards Show at the Kodak Theatre.

As is custom of Las Vegas, it was hot as hell. The shoot took place at LaMonte’s very huge house, which had plenty of setups for photoshoots. We were asked to fill out the application for the magazine, which basically asked for our measurements, contact information, and asked what our interests were. At the time I wasn’t using a model alias so I used my legal name. We were hustled into hair and makeup and then each took turns shooting in swimwear with LaMonte. I got to pose with a scooter as a prop and was shot against a white backdrop setup in the garage. My face keep melting off in the 100+ degree weather, which called for plenty of powder and fanning. I also shot in front of a black gate that led to the front of the house. After about 30-45 minutes of shooting, I was done.

After the trip I returned back home. It was July and I enjoyed the rest of my summer out of school (I was in college at the time). In October, I received a phone call from the photographer/director who hired me for the hosting gig and was told that LaMonte let him know that my photo had been chosen for one of JET’s upcoming November issues. Needless to say, I jumped for joy, I was so excited! Funny enough, I got the call as I was standing at the front door of a friend’s house and hadn’t had a chance to knock yet. My friend came rushing to the door when he heard my screams of excitement—he thought I was getting robbed! Ha ha. A few weeks later I managed to get all the copies from the shoot, which was pretty cool. I do have a videotape of me at the shoot, but since it’s on VHS I need to make time to convert it to a digital file, that hopefully I’ll be able to post online in the near future. People always get all excited when I tell them I have such footage. Trust me, it’s long and boring, but it really shows how photoshoots work. Once people watch it, they get what I mean.

When November came around I received a package in the mail, which contained a check for $100, a letter congratulating me, and a free copy of the issue I appeared in. I wasn’t thrilled about the picture they chose but then again, it wasn’t my decision to make…but I was thankful to have been chosen at all. I quickly went from store to store in my town, buying as many copies as I could. A few days later I began receiving calls from family members all over the country. Apparently, they all subscribe to JET Magazine and didn’t expect to see their niece/cousin/granddaughter in a swimsuit in their magazine!

I am definitely thankful for the opportunity to be in JET and I am thankful for those that played a part in making it possible. Because of that exposure, I was being seen all over and it is a great credit to my resume that I am proud of. I highly encourage anyone, model or aspiring, to give JET a shot and hopefully they’ll get to experience what I did when I got that amazing phone call.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tips for Taking Digital Pictures of Yourself

(This post is ideal for freelance models. While modeling agencies do request non-professional, digital pictures, the type of photo taking I am talking about in this post is for taking pictures of yourself when you don’t have anyone around to take it for you. When taking digital pictures for agencies DO NOT TAKE THEM YOURSELF! ‘Nuff said.)

This post is targeted towards freelance models that submit themselves for modeling gigs. It is important to be prepared for anything, especially when sending certain photos to potential clients. Don’t be surprised if you come across a client that requests recent, non-professional images that are not retouched. If you’ve been modeling for a while, the chances of you having such pictures may be slim. This calls for a mini photoshoot using your trusty digital camera. However, there are a few pointers I want to make here so that you get the best results.

Even though many clients will cast models based on their professional pictures and portfolio, many others want to make sure they know what you look like without the makeup and retouching, which is only fair. So get used to the idea of having to submit such pictures.

But just because you’re asked to send regular, digital pictures, that doesn’t mean you can slack. At the same time, they aren’t expecting you to be a professional photographer, either. If possible get someone to take the pictures for you. This eliminates a lot of time and effort. However, there may be a time when no one is around and clients will only wait so long when casting models for a project. So if you have no choice but to take your own pictures, follow these steps (no Myspace pictures, PLEASE!):

1) Read instructions carefully. Each client wants something different. Take note of what poses they ask for and make sure you only give them what they want.

2) Use a tripod. Even though the images aren’t being taken by a pro photographer, that doesn’t mean you can submit Myspace-esque photos. That’s totally unacceptable, regardless of how good you are at taking pictures in a mirror or holding up the camera in your face. If you don’t have a tripod, ask around and see if you can borrow one from a friend or family member. Tripods are easy to use and will help greatly.

3) Pay attention to detail. Your photos should be properly centered and taken in an area with good lighting. If indoors, pose against a plain white wall or similar background. Remove all distracting items and make sure only you appear in the pictures. When taking full body photos do not cut off your feet or your head. Again, pay attention to detail.

4) Take more than one picture per pose. Give yourself a few versions to choose from by taking 2-3 pictures of each requested pose. Preview each image taken in your camera and delete any that don’t look good. Only submit crisp, clear images. No blurriness.

5) Wear what the client asks you to wear. If no such information is given, ask before taking the pictures.

6) Edit your pictures before sending. You don’t need to be a pro at Photoshop to edit your images. Use whatever photo editing program you are familiar with and look over the images you’ve taken. Crop any pictures that have excess space as well as brighten any images that may be a bit dark. Because headshot images are hard to take on your own, do your best with framing and then crop the picture into a headshot afterwards. This should be the extent of any editing/retouching.

7) Don’t send monstrously huge files but avoid sending teeny tiny ones. Try to keep each image under 1MB. Resize as needed.

8) Show some diversity. Give a mixture of smiling and not smiling. Chances are the client does not want you to wear makeup or fancy hairstyles. Keep it simple.

9) Dedicate time to it. Don't attempt to take these kind of pictures yourself if you're in a hurry or have other things to do. Doing such a setup takes some time and getting used to. You want these images to come out great so set aside an hour or so to make sure you get the job done right and submit pictures that are guaranteed to get you the gig.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Answering a Reader Question #41

Washington Wrote:

Is the fee ligit? $1,500. The company sponsoring is called: K2 Productions, Inc.

Hello, Washington, and thanks for the question. K2 Productions, Inc. is the company responsible for putting together the Miss California USA Pageant. I had the opportunity to work closely with the main players involved in K2 Productions during my time as a 2009 Miss California USA contestant. They've been heading this operation for some time now. The $1,500 fee is legit and quite common in the pageant industry. Smaller, local pageants are usually a few hundred dollars but upscale productions such as Miss California, Miss USA, and Miss Universe require hefty entry fees that are thousands of dollars. Many title holders have their fees paid as a part of their winner's package, while other contestants have the option of paying the fees themselves or finding sponsors to help. Using sponsors is highly encouraged and pageant contestants are given the chance to sell ad space in the pageant's program book, which also goes towards paying down the balance of their entry fee.

While astronomical, such fees are required to put the pageant together in the first place. These fees cover the cost of the hotel accommodations/lodging, meals, security, transportation, courtesies, production costs, delegate photos, and ad design. A lot of work goes towards making a pageant possible and even though the fees are not fun to pay, it's the only way the pageantry system has been able to survive.

If you're thinking about entering a pageant, definitely do your homework. I would suggest targeting a smaller, more local pageant in your area. The costs are typically much more affordable than competing at the state and national level.

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Latest Shoot: Mocha Bride Magazine

So I’ve had a very productive week! Monday was my first bridal magazine shoot. For a while now I’ve longed to do bridal modeling but was never able to usually for two reasons: 1) lack of bridal modeling gigs available 2) gigs that were available were looking for girls 5’9” and taller. Luckily, I came across a posting on Craigslist of all places, asking for models of color for an upcoming bridal magazine. So I attended the casting, met the magazine staff and photographer for the shoot, had them look at my portfolio and booked the shoot!

The bridal shoot was for the first issue of Mocha Bride Magazine, which is set to launch in June of this year. My morning started super early—I had to BE AT the first shoot location at 7:45am! Thankfully there was an entire crew on hand, including two makeup artists and a hair stylist so I had no trouble at all getting up, washing and moisturizing my face, throwing on my clothes, and grabbing my things. The night before I packed some snacks and drinks (with straws to avoid messing up the lipstick), and put together the items I was asked to bring, which included: strapless, nude colored bras, high heels, and thong underwear. Since I knew I would be getting my makeup done I wanted to wear clothes that wouldn’t get in the way. I wore dark blue sweatpants, sneakers, and a white, zip up blouse.

I arrived to the Oakland location about a half hour early and found out we were taking photos at a picturesque mansion that was over 100 years old. The grounds were a popular place for weddings so it really fit the bridal theme to a tee. There were four other female models in addition to me and we all hung out and got to know one another while the photography crew set things up. Here are a few pictures I snapped once things started rolling:

One of the models getting her makeup done:

These are images from the second location at the golf course:

Don't worry, that's not a dead body, just the wedding dresses all bundled up on the table:

Another model going through the makeup process:

I tried on two wedding dresses in the backroom and while they were both nice, we (myself, the stylists and the magazine owners, acting as creative directors—all female) didn’t quite feel like it was “the” dress. Afterwards I went to report for hair and makeup. When the essentials were taken care of, I was called back into the dressing room to get ready. One of the creative directors, reached for a dress that had been overlooked and hadn’t been tried on yet. Soon as I slipped it on and looked in the mirror with my hair and makeup done, we all reached a consensus: this was THE dress!

Now I’ve never been one to be all sappy about weddings or even getting married but when I looked at myself in the mirror, I suddenly realized what the hype was all about and why getting married is such a big deal for so many women. I felt like a goddess and couldn’t wait to shoot! Because the dresses were being borrowed from local bridal shops we had to be extra careful not to get them damaged or dirty. While walking I had to hold my long train or had someone assist me. I did my first set of shots next to a curtained window inside the mansion holding a colorful wedding bouquet and then leaning against a piano. Because there were five models total, there was down time while the photographer worked with each girl. After we all had our solo moments, we did a series of group shots on the front stairs of the mansion. While the morning started off being overcast with showers, the sun managed to take control a few hours later, which helped warm us up. After the group shot, the crew was ready to move on to the second location so three of the models were told they could change into their clothes and take a lunch break and then meet up at the second shoot location, which was a golf course that also hosts weddings, and was located about 10 minutes away. Another model and I were asked to stay behind for additional shooting. They shot the first girl on a really cool stone bench and then she was sent to lunch. I was moved to this really cool spot underneath a tree in a grassy area. I was given a sun umbrella to pose with and then a white wedding bouquet. After that I was moved to the last location, which was my favorite. I stood in front of a wall of bamboo trees in a wooded area. The background of browns and greens looked great in contrast to my ivory wedding dress. When we were done there, the first shoot location was officially wrapped. I changed into my regular clothes, ate my snacks and drove over to the golf course.

Once I arrived, I met up with one of the models while we waited for everyone else to show up. The facility let us set up shop in the tent they use for weddings, and the creative director and stylist began setting out what dresses we’d be wearing for the shoot. I got to wear a white, poufy wedding dress that was so long and overflowing, I couldn’t carry it by myself. I got to pose with a “groom,” who turned out to be the husband of one of the magazine owners. He was really nice. We posed together as a happy couple underneath a gazebo and then I got to pose solo in the middle of the gazebo entrance. After that was done, it was a wrap for me so I thanked everyone, passed out a few business cards, received a few business cards and made my way home.

I was so happy to be a part of that shoot and I can’t wait to see what the finished issue looks like when Mocha Bride comes out in June. Even more exciting is waiting to find out if I made the cover of the first issue. I have a good feeling about it but I don’t want to jinx myself so for now I’ll just cross my fingers and hope for the best!

I contacted the photographer and thanked him for his great work. He managed to leak five images to me but since I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes and show images that I’m sure they don’t want the public to see before the magazine comes out, I’m only going to show you one but it’s my favorite so far. The photographer said all of my images came out great and we’re planning on working together on other projects in the near future. Here you go:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Answering a Reader Question #40

Jovan Doe Wrote:

Okay nice idea for post but what about the "What did you get this money for" question from the 1099-misc. taxes.

I left my major agency last year mid season, did most of my runway shows & presentations and quite a bit of print ads through a smaller agency in NYC. I received my 1099-misc for the first time and deceided to do them myself.

The answers they give could be any 3; Occasional worker, contract labor or consulting, or even wages. Which one is the best to pick bar all chances to get killed by taxes.

Hey, Jovan, and thanks for the question. I am not a professional tax advisor so I can only offer my opinion for what I would if I was in your situation. I would opt for the "Occasional Worker" answer. If the word "consulting" wasn't attached to the "contract labor" answer, then I would pick that, but so far it seems the "Occasional Worker" option is your best bet. I would also suggest visiting a tax website like H&R Block, where they sometimes offer online chat assistance so you can also ask them the same question you asked me to make sure you're covering all your bases.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Info on Modeling Markets

As with the other two posts I did, I got this information from Independent Modeling. Some of you may be wondering where the hot spots are for modeling and below is general information on this topic:

Fashion Capitals
New York in the United States, Milan in Italy, and Paris in France

Secondary Markets

Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami

Local Markets
Tampa, Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Boston, San Francisco, and other large cities

Model Job Rates For Service Markets
Both Tampa and Seattle are considered to be local markets with a close proximity to secondary markets, which leads to a healthy mix of work. Tampa is a short drive from Miami, which is a secondary model market, and Seattle is up the Pacific coast from Los Angeles, another secondary market.

So what happens if you don't live in any of these areas? That doesn't mean you can't make it as a model but the chances of hitting it big will be drastically reduced. Living in or near a good modeling market will give you prime choices in terms of modeling agencies, quality and frequency of work, and pay rates. There are many small, local modeling agencies in random cities across the country, which could allow for opportunities to gain experience, build your portfolio, and make some money but if you want to take your modeling career to the next level, your chances will be better off if you head to any of the markets mentioned above.

Types of Specialty Modeling & Pay Rates

I found this information from the following site: Independent Modeling, however, please note that the site hasn't been updated in a while so aside from the information I'm providing here, the accuracy of the other information may be subject to question. These rates are recommended but not set in stone. These are pay rates that freelance models can use as a guide. Of course depending on your experience and the market you're in, you may not be able to commend higher rates. It will vary from situation to situation so be aware of that and learn to be flexible.

Types of Specialty Modeling:

Parts (hands, feet, teeth, etc)

Very specialized modeling, the demand is not too high, so the jobs demand high rates as parts models must take extreme precautions to protect their assets. For example, a hand model would avoid doing dishes and any harsh work with their hands, and some wear gloves to make sure that their hands are in prime condition.

$300.00 to $500.00 per hour. Day rate $1,000.00 to $10,000.00.

Ethnic Modeling

If you are a minority such as Hispanic, African American, or Asian, this type of modeling does not pay more, but the market is growing, and it presents more opportunities for the independent model. In Miami, there is a strong market for Hispanics, as the culture there is largely Latin. Demographics of a market will be a large factor to determine your marketability as a model.

Standard Rates.

Runway Modeling

When most people think about modeling, they think print work or big runway shows, which makes this prime bait for certain model job scams. You do not need to go to a model school to learn this, as it can be learned on the job that is booked. You don't need a school to learn how to walk, and most models who fit the physical requirements can pull it off well with normal direction and some practice. If you are a model with minor acting experience or consumer level dance training, this will not be difficult.

$250.00 per hour and up.

Fit Modeling

Fit models work with designers and model their clothes for them. More common in larger markets and fashion capitals. This kind of modeling requires patience and endurance, as there are long periods of standing as garments are adjusted on the model. Fit modeling is a great way to get your foot in the door for other types of modeling, however, as you will get a chance to get to know the designer.

$150.00 per hour and up.

Showroom Modeling

This kind of job is more common in larger markets where there are fashion retail showrooms. The models wear the fashion designers clothes for clients and walk in customers, and greet people when they enter.

Day rate $1,000.00 and up.

Promotional Modeling

Promotional modeling is also the lowest paying, with rates below that of even editorial print. Models are hired by night clubs and companies like alcoholic beverage brewers to work events. Many models make a living doing this, as a day rate over $100.00 is common. Promotional models usually do not need the skills and qualifications that trade show and convention model do.

$12.00 to $30.00 per hour, for at least four hours. Day rate $100.00 to $200.00.

Trade Show Modeling

A lot like promotional modeling, but usually manning a booth at a trade show and requiring models with good people skills. For promotional models, the "next level". There are a lot of these jobs in Florida, and especially in Tampa Bay, Orlando, and Miami.

Day rate $200.00 to $500.00.

Convention Modeling

These are "trade shows" that require refined, trained models to do presentations and promote the company, usually from a large booth or exhibit area that the company has set up. Models with acting experience, a mastery of more than one language, and the ability to use presentation aids such as ear pieces, radio transceivers, Teleprompters, video projectors, computers, and laser pointers are cut out for this work. The pay is great, but so is the responsibility. These models have to be approachable, smart, and witty, as well as have a professional business look. The top level of event modeling. These jobs are often offered in large markets.

Day rate $1,000.00 to $4,000.00.

Glamour/ Boudoir/ Nude Modeling

If it's not print work or for an art class, we cannot recommend it. If it's live, they may call it "modeling", but it probably is not and may have the potential to destroy your modeling career. If you must book this kind of work, only do it with photographers that you know and trust. The potential to exploit the model is high, and some so-called photographers use this as a way of creating soft porn. Be careful, as this kind of work may limit your marketability in commercial modeling or with sensitive clients. This kind of work also has no business being in a normal modeling portfolio, and especially not on composite cards used to obtain commercial or fashion work!

Triple normal rates.

Alternative Modeling

Alternative modeling is a branch of the modeling industry that features models who do not conform to mainstream ideals of beauty. Alternative models are often niche-specific, with a personal style that represents subcultures like goth, burlesque, latex and fetishism. An alternative model may for example be tattooed, pierced, or have distinctively subcultural hair (shaved, dyed a distinctively unnatural color, or in dreadlocks). There are specialized publications that feature and promote alternative models, including Alt Fashion and Gothic Beauty. Other magazines like Bizarre feature alternative models for visual emphasis for their features.

Personal adult pay websites exist for alternative models specializing in alternative porn, like Suicide Girls, Razor Dolls, and Gods Girls. Not all alternative models are associated with the porn industry. Alternative models are often employed to promote niche products, either in shops or online, particular subcultural clothing shops and websites.

Rates vary.

Description of Types of Print Modeling & Pay Rates

I found this information from the following site: Independent Modeling, however, please note that the site hasn't been updated in a while so aside from the information I'm providing here, the accuracy of the other information may be subject to question. These rates are recommended but not set in stone. These are pay rates that freelance models can use as a guide. Of course depending on your experience and the market you're in, you may not be able to commend higher rates. It will vary from situation to situation so be aware of that and learn to be flexible.

Types of Print Modeling:

Editorial Print

Editorial print work is a more subdued style of work, and it normally tells a story in images to market a product or service by showing the model acting out a role in the setting. Editorial work is loosely defined, highly creative with great art direction, and the layout is less noticeable. In magazine editorial print, the exposure of the model is high, and the trade off for this high profile is the low payout. Most models like editorial work because it is highly creative and the pictures and tear sheets really enhance their portfolios. To some, it is worth the low pay just for the potential exposure.

$200.00 day rate.


Catalog print work is stiff and controlled, often with the model posing with clothing on or products and facing the camera. If you have ever seen a large department store catalog, then you know what this is. Catalog work pays well even in secondary and local markets, and many models make good livings doing this.

$150.00 to $300.00 per hour. Day rate $1,200.00 to $3,500.00 and up.

Fashion Print

This is print work for clothing companies where the product is the clothing. The copy, or words, used in such ads are brief. If you've seen a full page ad in a magazine for a clothing brand, then you've seen this.

$150.00 to $250.00 an hour. Day rate $1,200.00 to $2,400.00 and up.

Commercial Print

Commercial print model have an "average person" look that consumers can relate to. A lot of commercial print work is used for printed ads and other forms of advertisement.

$75.00 to $150.00 per hour. Day rate $400.00 to $950.00.

Advertising/Product Print

Essentially the same as commercial print, using a "real person" look, but featuring a product or line of products.

$100.00 to $200.00 an hour and up. Day rate $500.00 to $1,200.00 and up.

Swimwear/ Bikini Modeling Print

Models who model swimwear must be in great shape. In Florida, a lot of print work is with bikini and swimwear. Because this is specialized, though, it commands higher rates. Think twice about doing this for free, as the potential to exploit you is there and you are worth more than nothing.

$500.00 to $2,500 day rate or the rates for lingerie/underwear.

Lingerie/Underwear Print

Most swimwear models can model lingerie and underwear, but it is a risky market that must be worked in good taste. Rates are higher for this kind of modeling.

Double standard rates ($400.00 day rate editorial. $2,400.00 to $7,000.00 day rate and up catalog)

Nude or Sheer Modeling

A limited market, and a specialty. Nude work requires refined professionalism and very good compensation rates. Do not do this for TFP or for low rates, as this can hurt your career if it is not done with respect and good taste. Photographers who do this should be able to pay you for it, and their portfolio should show great work in other kind of model photography. This is not for beginning models or photographers, and should be commissioned work for a specific project. DO NOT do this for free, for photographers who's references you cannot verify, or for a standard "modeling" portfolio, as nude pictures will hurt your chances of booking most modeling jobs. The exception to this is if this is the main type of modeling career you wish to pursue.

Triple standard rates ($600.00 day rate editorial. $3,600 to $9,500.00 day rate catalog)

Full Figure/ Plus Size Print

This is a rapidly growing area of modeling, as advertisers have realized that there is a big demand for models that the average consumer size 10 and over can relate to. If you are a plus size model, look into this. Plus size print modeling is normally catalog and commercial print, but can apply to editorial and other kinds of print, too.

$100.00 to $200.00 an hour. Day rate $500.00 to $1,000.00.

Answering a Reader Question #39

Ines Wrote:

I'm canadian and I have a canadian passport but I study in houston,tx. Do you think that I can apply?? help me please... you're sooo beautiful

Hello, Ines, and thank you for the compliment...you are very sweet! I checked the Eligibility Requirements for America's Next Top Model casting and here is what it says:

You must be a United States citizen and live in the United States. Producers reserve the right to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

According to their rules, you would not be eligible because you are not an actual United States citizen, even though you go to school here. However, they do say that they make exceptions to the rule and you studying in the United States for school may allow them to take you as an exception to the rule. My best advice is to attend the casting if there is one close to you or submit your application, photos, and video through the mail and explain your situation. If you have a great look and they like you, they may allow you to go through the casting process. You'll never know unless you try so give it a shot and see what happens...I'll be crossing my fingers for you!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Modeling & Taxes (Recording Income & Write Offs)

(This post is mainly targeted towards freelance models with no agency representation. However, much of the information in this post can be applied by those with agency representation. If you are a parent of a model under 18, take note of the information dealing with write offs—you could greatly benefit).

Ask anyone that is a freelancer, independent contractor, or business owner if there is anything they hate more, it’s paying taxes, but if you ask what they like best, they’ll more than likely tell you they love the ability to write off a number of things that are considered “business related.” So what does this mean and what does it have to do with you and your modeling career?

As an independent contractor/freelancer, you are basically your own business. This puts you in a different category than someone that is employed by a company, especially when it comes to taxes and other related topics. Being a freelance model means you’ll need to be super organized and keep track of a number of factors that relate to your modeling career.

My first piece of advice for freelance models is to get record books for keeping track of not only the money you make from your modeling gigs, but to also record any money you spend as a result of your modeling career. Certain purchases you make or expenses you incur can be considered a tax write off. As a freelancer, tax write offs are important because that means you’ll more than likely get a percentage of that money back in the form of a tax refund. If you don’t report it, you won’t get anything back. However, not all things can be considered a tax write off and lying or including things that aren’t actually business related can get you into a lot of trouble with the IRS.

When it comes to modeling, the following are common tax write offs:

- Gas/Mileage: Do you own your own car and use it to go to and from go-sees, auditions, interviews, and photoshoots? Then you can use your car, the mileage and the gas money you spend as a tax write off. In most cases you can even use your car itself as a tax write off—I do! Any money spent on repairs, oil changes and other factors may also qualify as a tax write off. If you take public transportation to get to your gigs and/or pay for passes or memberships to allow you to take that mode of public transportation, then keep track of the receipts/tickets, and record that in your book. This all counts towards money spent that is business related.

- Parking/Tolls: Keep all receipts anytime you use a parking garage when driving to a modeling gig. If you have to pay toll, record the amount you paid, the date and where you were headed in your record keeping book.

- Travel: If you have to catch a plane or stay in a hotel for a modeling gig that the client does not pay you for, this expense can be used as a tax write off. Again, keep all receipts and write down the specifics in your record keeping book.

- Office supplies: Do you print your own comp cards? Did you spend money to have a company do them for you or do you purchase your own printer ink and special photo paper? This could be a tax write off for you since it directly relates to your modeling career.

Please don’t try to include personal things into your modeling career track record, such as personal trips that you falsely list as business related, making up expenses, etc. The IRS is very thorough and all the information you report will be investigated and checked for authenticity.

To make things easy, set aside a folder or large envelope where you can store all of your receipts, which you can provide to your tax professional when you’re ready to file your taxes. Record keeping may not be the most fun but motivate yourself by thinking of the money you will be getting back as a tax refund—that always reenergizes me!

In terms of what can’t be considered a tax write off for modeling (this is highly debatable but is what I believe shouldn’t be counted, based on my research and people I’ve talked to):

- Makeup & hair products: Trying to justify writing off purchases of hair and makeup products is a difficult case to make against the IRS for the simple fact that when it comes to modeling, this type of expenses isn’t solely isolated to your modeling profession. To translate, you would need to prove without a doubt that the makeup and hair products you spent money on are only used when you model. Hmmm…a girl buying makeup and hair products but not using it unless it’s for modeling? Not a very strong or convincing argument. Even if you buy an outrageous eye shadow color, there are girls that walk around with such crazy shades everyday. Again, not a justifiable reason.

- Clothes: This is a tricky one so my rule of thumb is as follows: the only time you can write off buying clothes is if the outfit you buy can only be worn for modeling purposes and not for everyday wear. So if you buy a cute sundress for a photoshoot, chances are you’ll also wear it when you’re not modeling—not a tax write off. That leopard print cat suit with the plunging neckline or the ballerina outfit…that can be seen as a tax write off because where would you wear such outfits outside of the modeling realm? See the difference? So unless the outfit is so outlandish that you would not wear it normally, then you can’t justify writing it off.

- Spa treatments and related services: You don’t need to be a model in order to get a facial, massage, hair removal, manicure or pedicure so while you may only spend the money on such services to prep for a photoshoot, it isn’t a business related expenses because everyone gets these http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giftreatments done.

Some tax professionals may allow you to use these as write offs, but know that you do so at your own risk. I personally would not recommend it. There are plenty of models that I’m sure write these things off all the time but again, I would not suggest it to anyone and while it may work for those people, the IRS is not an entity I would ever take a risk with. Just my opinion.

Even if you freelance part-time and have another job or are a student and model on the side, keeping track of your expenses and income is a must if you want to get a tax refund. If you have any questions or special situations, be sure to ask your tax professional for their advice.

Modeling & Taxes (for models 18 and older)

This post is not intended to replace or be used as professional tax advice. I am in no way a tax professional, nor do I claim to be an expert. The point of this post is to provide basic information to those that are concerned about how taxes and modeling go hand-in-hand. If you have any questions or concerns about your particular tax situation in relation to modeling, please contact your CPA or other trusted tax professional. If there is anything in this post that is inaccurate or wrong, please let me know and I will correct it asap. Additionally, the subject of modeling and taxes discussed in my posts deal with the United States only so if you live outside of the U.S. this topic may not be of any relevance to you.

While you may be happy to be 18 and considered an “adult” one drawback is that now you are responsible for your taxes and reporting your modeling income each year when tax season comes around. There are two situations you’ll fall under if you are a model: modeling with agency representation and freelance modeling.

If you are currently under agency representation, the good news is that you will only receive one 1099 form when tax season starts (if you are signed to more than one agency then you’ll more than likely receive more than one). When you first sign with your agency, you will be required to fill out a W-9, which allows your agent to provide you with your 1099 form each year. Provide your form to your tax professional and you’ll be set to go. You will only receive a 1099 if you made any money through modeling for that tax year. If for whatever reason you did not book any paying work, then you won’t receive a tax form at all.

Now, if you are a freelance model, you’ll be responsible for collecting the proper tax forms and keeping track of your income. Just like agency represented models, you will be required to fill out W-9 forms and will receive 1099s and similar forms when tax time comes around. It is important that you keep track of all this and turn in the proper forms to your tax professional (if you do your taxes yourself then obviously this won’t apply to you). The one drawback here with freelance models is that not all of the clients you’ll work with will ask you to fill out a W-9, nor will you necessarily receive a 1099 from all of the work you’ve done. This is a sticky situation that is best discussed with whoever does your taxes. I’ve heard from other freelancers that clients often don’t bother with providing talent with tax forms if the pay for the gig is less than $600. Whether there is truth to this or not, I am not sure but it seems that $600 is the magic number. But regardless of whether the client chooses to give you a tax form or not, you still need to report your income from gigs that you do not have a 1099 for.

If you are a freelance model that does not receive a lot of tax forms from the people you’ve worked for, contact them and inquire about the matter. Simply ask if they will be providing you with a 1099 or similar form for tax purposes. If not, then move on. The best thing you can do is to keep a record book of what gigs you’ve worked, the name of the client, the date the work was performed, and how much you were paid. At least keeping track of your income in this manner will allow your tax professional to accurately calculate your income and will assist in the preparation and filing of your taxes.

You can purchase special books for recording your income from any office supply store or you can ask your tax professional if they have any to give you. My tax pro at H&R Block gave me a bunch of recording keeping booklets and sheets to track my income and expenses (I’ll be talking about the topic of expenses, write offs and income recording in my next post).

Another point that I've learned about when dealing with taxes is that if you model full-time and live in California (not sure if this applies to other states), you also need to pay what are known as "estimated taxes". Here is a definition/explanation of estimated taxes that I got from an About.com article, written by William Perez:

You need to make estimated tax payments if your income tax withholding will not fully cover next year's tax liability. This applies mostly to self-employed people, landlords, and investors. You need to make estimated tax payments at least every three months. This is because your income tax withholding (from your day job) may not be sufficient to pay your federal income tax in full by the end of the year.

I highly encourage those concerned about this subject to read the rest of Perez's article, titled, "How to Pay Your Estimated Taxes."

Answering a Reader Question #38

Anonymous Wrote:

I really love this blog you have! You have helped so many people! I have a question though.

I'll give a little unnecessary back history lol (you can skip it if you want to to the last paragraph).

I'm 15, I was a little kid model/actress, but my mom wanted me to focus on school. She's now letting me decide for myself if I want to pursue it again. I've decided that because of my height (5'10ish) that I should model (which I love to do) and transition into acting (which I also love to do) when I get older. While I work on my inches (I'm about 3 inches off on my hips and waist), we're also wondering what to do with my hair. I've had it relaxed before, but stopped when I was eight and have gotten it straightened for awhile now.

I'm African-American, so I was wondering do you suggest getting my hair relaxed or straightening it?

Sorry for how long this is.

Thank you for the kind words and never apologize for the length of a question. As you can see, I have a bad habit of writing really long posts and responses lol. As far as your hair goes, I would recommend choosing the method that is more convenient for you and is the best for the health of your hair. If straightening is what you've been doing then you should stick to it. I heard a recent horror story of a young lady who wanted to try relaxing her hair after using straightening as her method for years. Unfortunately, she had a bad case and lost a lot of hair due to the chemicals...even though she used to get it relaxed back in the day, for whatever reason her hair did not take well to the process at all. For that reason alone I would suggest being very wary of introducing your hair to relaxing chemicals. I have been relaxing my hair for many, many years so my experiences have been good because that's all my hair has known (plus tons of deep conditioning treatments!).

However, if you do choose to relax, go to a pro at a salon and get someone you trust to do it for you...maybe do a test strand first and see what happens. It's better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your hair. But if you've had successful results with straightening then stick to what you know best.

Hope that helps and good luck on your future endeavors with getting back into the industry!!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Answering a Reader Question #37

Celeste Wrote:

Dania, I'm so excited for you!! I'm auditioning as well in Dallas on the 21st. Your guide was so helpful! Also, I posted more photos on model mayhem, so please check them out and tell me what you think! Also, I have a question. As far as building your portfolio, how many poses of an outfit should be in your portfolio? What are some good tools to view to practice runway walks? I wish you so much luck on the possibility of Tyra picking you!!!

Hey, Celeste! Thanks for the support and encouragement--I definitely wish you the same in your casting experience...rock it, girl!!!

To answer your questions, in terms of how many poses of an outfit should be in your portfolio, this can vary but ideally one great pose for each outfit is best. Or you can do two of the best poses for each look--three would be pushing it and I would avoid it. You only have a certain number of pages to fill out in a portfolio and it should showcase diversity, not too much of the same. One layout in portfolios that I find useful is to have two poses of the same look on the same page, instead of dedicating one page to each photo. I think this layout looks great and is eye catching. Here is an example of using two different poses of the same outfit on one page in your port:

Of course if you don't have an extensive number of images to include in your portfolio yet, then definitely feel free to dedicate one picture to each page in order to fill it up. But as long as you have at least 4-5 different outfits you've shot in, that should be more than enough to get your modeling portfolio started.

As for good tools to view to practice runway walks, sites like You Tube have more than their fair share of footage from various runway shows from around the world. Doing a search with keywords like, "runway shows," "NY Fashion Week," or using the name of a designer will bring up a long list of shows that you can watch. Try to find one that has the show in its entirety instead of just a few seconds of people walking. This should be more than enough to get you comfortable with strutting your stuff in front of the casting team.

I would also recommend having a good pair of 4 inch heels that don't have a fat, chunky heel on them to practice in. These heels should be comfortable and in a solid color that is either black, white, or taupe. You should be so comfortable in these heels that when you do your walk, you have no fear of falling or losing your balance. When practicing your walk, do your best to find a solid, flat surface to practice on (wood floors, concrete like the kind found in your garage, even linoleum will work). If you don't have that, then carpet will do but make sure it is flat and not the kind that is shaggy. Think of the kind of carpet that hotels have in their rooms. Because all hotels are different, and that is where the majority of the ANTM castings are taking place, you may be required to walk on either a carpeted floor or a hardwood floor.

Good luck and please let me know how it goes!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dania Denise Now Available for One-On-One Coaching & Consultations!

I don't want to take up too much room with this particular post because I've already written a fairly detailed post about this on another site so if you are a model or aspiring model that is located in or around the Bay Area/Northern California, check out my Myspace blog post: "Dania Denise Now Available for One-On-One Coaching & Consultations!"

I'm continuing to offer online consultations via email and IM free of charge but for those models that are local to me, I'm more than willing to provide hands-on assistance if needed.

My ANTM Casting Experience Pt. III

After waiting in line about an hour to an hour and a half, I finally reached the entrance to the Westin Hotel, which is where the casting was taking place. The man at the door asked to see identification that showed our date of birth (you have to be 18-27 in order to be eligible). They took us in groups of seven and directed us to the elevators, where we got onto the third floor and were instructed to sit in a large waiting room. As we walked into the room we were handed a sticker with a number on it (I was #173) and another application (this one was one page, compared to the 15 page official application I filled out a few days before) and were directed to our seats.

Check out my video coverage (sorry if it's kinda dark--the lighting in the room wasn't that great):

This is video of how quickly the room filled up after about 45 minutes:

This is where we proceeded to wait until 10am. During that time I changed into my heels, had a quick snack and filled out the one page application we were handed at the door. It basically asked the same stuff as the first page of the official application: name, contact info, address, interests, etc.

One of the local radio stations, 106.1 KMEL, showed up with one of their radio personalities and their entourage. They took photos of us (there’s 2 or 3 with me on it that may be on the station’s website) and interviewed some people on camera. There were countless numbers of girls that were falling all over themselves to get in front of the camera. It was quite a bit of pandemonium.

After the radio station was done shooting their footage, the ANTM crew called for the first 50 seated girls (all in numerical order according to the numbers they gave us), and we moved up to fill in the empty seats. After about another hour they took the next 25 girls, which was the group I was a part of. They took us into the actual casting room, which was freezing because of the camera equipment (colder temperatures are better for the proper operation of any recording/video equipment). They asked us to squeeze into the room like sardines, where we lined up against the wall. Literally, each girl’s shoe tips had to be touching the heels of the girl in front of us. We were then asked to drop all of our bags and belongings at arm’s length away from us and onto the carpet. They also stressed that they did not want any trendy clothing and people wearing layers were asked to remove them. The casting team then asked each of us to hold the microphone, look into the camera and state our first and last name, age, height, and weight and then pass the microphone to the next person. We did this one by one until the whole room had gone. There were no people from the actual ANTM show—just two female casting directors, the cameraman, a guy to handle the microphone, and two other guys that acted as crowd control and organized the applications.

After everyone had introduced themselves and listed their stats on camera, they made their first round of cuts. I survived the first cut! It was so cool because soon as I got my number called, every girl that was near me grabbed me in a tight hug and congratulated me…you’d think I had made it onto the show! LOL. I was very excited though, to say the least. One girl who was 5’9” (they are allowing tall girls to still audition but they mostly got cut) told me that she thought I was the most beautiful in the room and wished me the best of luck…talk about flattering!

The remaining 10-12 girls were asked to form a tighter line in the middle of the room and we had to roll our shirts up and tuck it into our bras in order to show our midsection. We were told to stand in a military stance: feet together, no posing, shoulders square and relaxed, and our arms resting at our sides. The camera then took footage of each of us, starting with a tight headshot, then a medium shot, then a full body shot (the casting team watched on a monitor next to the camera man). We were instructed to smile and then not smile. They asked some of us to repeat our stats and some had to answer questions for clarification based on what they put on their application.

Next came the next round of cuts and sadly I did not make it. I wasn’t discouraged, though and got plenty of kudos from the rest of the girls when I left the room and even all the way to the hotel lobby! It was a fun experience and while I didn’t make it to the final round (I’m guessing the remaining 5-6 girls were required to do a runway walk in front of the camera), the casting director did say that Tyra watches all the footage, not just of the people they select and that she often chooses girls that don’t make it to the final round. So that’s a bright side to consider. Semi-finalists/finalists will be contacted in April so we'll see what happens!

Here is a picture of what I wore to the casting (this was taken after I got back from San Francisco)...I simply wore my hair in a curled ponytail and I wore no makeup with the exception of very light concealer under my eyes, one coat of mascara, clear lip gloss and regular pressed powder to eliminate shine caused by the lighting equipment...very fresh faced and natural:

These are the shoes I wore. Taupe, 4-inch heels...super comfortable and very sturdy to walk in:

My ANTM Casting Experice Pt. II

When I found out about the ANTM casting, I visited the CW Network website (www.cwtv.com) and first read the Eligibility Requirements to make sure that I was indeed eligible to apply. I then printed out the Application and filled it out. Because I planned on attending the open casting call in San Francisco, I did not do a videotape submission. However, if you plan on submitting your application via snail mail then you will need to include a 3-minute videotape (DVD or VHS) of yourself, along with other materials so please read the Eligibility Requirements and the Application to make sure you are following the right steps.

I work up at 6am, got ready, got stuck in traffic due to the horrible storm that hit the city and arrived at my destination around 8am. What I brought with me:

- Application, completely filled out

- Photo ID (driver's license)

- Small bag that had my application carefully tucked away from the rain, a book to read, snacks, and my heels (due to the rain I did not want my feet to get wet or my shoes so I wore sneakers and rolled up my dark jeans so they did not get wet)

- Small purse that contained my wallet, powder, lip gloss, mascara, small notepad and a pen

- A big umbrella!

I parked my car in a nearby parking garage and already expected a long line, which there was. The casting people weren't officially seeing any applicants until 10am and at 8am there was already 100-150 people in front of me. Here's my video coverage of my arrival:

The first shot of the line I show goes around the corner to the left--the Westin Hotel is further up that block:

Luckily the line moved pretty fast and the rain let up a lot so we didn't have to huddle under a community of umbrellas. I made friends with the other gals in line and the crowd/atmosphere overall was positive, energetic and friendly, which is always a plus!

My ANTM Casting Experience Pt. I

Yes, you read right. I attended a casting for ANTM. Why, you ask? Well, here are a couple of reasons:

- While they are premiering cycle 12 this week on television, they are currently already casting for cycle 13 (yes, folks, in the TV world even “reality” is prerecorded). The twist with the cycle 13 casting is that ANTM is only looking for girls that are at or under 5’7”. That means cycle 13 is all about petite models!

- Because this has never happened before, I knew it was something that I at least wanted to experience. How often does Tyra take an interest in anyone that is under 5’7”?

- I figured I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

In the eligibility requirements it states that it’s okay if you have modeling experience but they prefer to not have contestants that have appeared in a national or international campaign within the past 5 years. I mostly model locally and the only mainstream thing I’ve done was being the “Beauty of the Week” in JET Magazine but that was back in 2004 and it wasn’t an ad campaign. So if you have experience, don’t worry, that doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from trying out. (You can even have agency or manager representation but if you make it onto the show, you have to be willing to terminate any and all contracts—no exceptions).

Even though I have advised girls in the past to reconsider or at least think deeply before turning to ANTM as a way to hopefully jump off their modeling career, I do believe in doing what you want and exploring such opportunities. I’ve never told someone to not do it. As for myself and pursuing ANTM, I’m fairly confident that I can avoid the pitfalls of reality TV and could come out of the experience fairly unscathed or without being negatively stereotyped. It’s mostly when it comes to people that have no experience whatsoever with modeling and TV that I get nervous in terms of them wanting to do reality television.

I have taken some video and pictures of my experience, which will come in the next post or two. I figure why not chronicle my experience in order to bring it to you, my readers?

If you’re interested in attending the open casting call for ANTM or want to mail your submission, I encourage you to read my eHow.com article that I wrote about How to Apply for America's Next Top Model. It lays out the steps pretty clearly so that you can have a successful audition.